Carol Burnett once reimagined her show as a comedy program starring Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth II reigned for seven decades before her recent passing at the age of 96. Her status as the United Kingdom's longest serving monarch made her an icon to multiple generations and the target of many parodies over the years.
One loving spoof of the royal family came from the queen of variety shows, Carol Burnett. First featured in sketches poking fun at celebrity interviews, Burnett's Queen Elizabeth evolved into one of the shows best recurring characters, eventually incorporating Harvey Korman as her husband, Prince Philip, and Tim Conway as a soldier who swallowed a grenade that hallowed out his insides.
While all of Burnett's high-pitched and prim performances as Queen Elizabeth are hilarious, one episode gave the English monarch the full Carol Burnett Show treatment.
Episode four of season three, which originally aired in October of 1969, imagined a scenario where the Queen stars in her own variety show, one that looks remarkably similar to Burnett’s famous sketch series.
Coming off the success of the 1969 TV documentary that showed the royal family like they had never been seen before, Lyle Waggoner tells the Carol Burnett Show audience about the Queen’s new foray into show business.
Burnett then walks out as Elizabeth dressed in full royal finery – the costumes were always one of the best parts about the show. She takes questions from the audience, asked either by actors or possibly regular people thoroughly enjoying trying their best English accents. Among many other jokes, the Queen mentions that Prince Philip is a "fine actor" because he has been playing the part of her husband for many years. When asked about what life is like at home, she promptly ends the Q&A and exits the stage arm in arm with Harvey Korman's bashful Philip.
The parallels between the Queen’s variety show and Burnett's continue with the next two sketches. The first is a take on the "Carol and Sis" sketches featuring Vicki Lawrence as Princess Margaret, the Queen's real-life younger sister.
Next, Korman and Burnett play elderly versions of Philip and Elizabeth in a royal take on the recurring "Old Folks" sketches. With jokes about the Queen living an incredibly long life and depriving son Charles of his time as king, the sketch has turned out to be more prophetic than they could ever know at the time.
The episode ends with Burnett as the Queen singing an altered version of her famous closing song: "I'm so glad we had this time together, but it’s time to bid you cheerio!"
While everyone from Lucy Ricardo to the Beverly Hillbillies tried to meet the Queen in certain episodes, some of the English monarchy’s most memorable appearances on classic American television happened on The Carol Burnett Show.